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Dec 08, 2007

Your Turn: Iran And The Desperate Man

Desperate-Man
(click for full size)

The image is not about Sarkozy and Merkel spending a cultural afternoon, nor is it about Merkel giving momentary pause to an arresting piece of art.  The photo accompanies a report about Thursday's strategy session between the two.

According to the NYT article, the Europeans continue to see Iran as a nuclear threat despite the latest U.S. intel claiming Iran ditched its nuke program back in '03.  If Sarkozy is more resolute than Merkel on the need for U.N. sanctions, it is not by much.

My question is, how does the painting -- a self-portrait by French artist Gustave Courbet titled "Desperate Man" -- map to the story, as well as mix with the interplay between the heads of state?  More importantly, how much is the Times (which made a point to name the artwork in its caption) playing off the painting to address the shifting picture on Iran, either by alluding to how it has been perceived up to now or to what to expect going forward?

(image: Maya Vidon/European Pressphoto Agency.  Paris.  December 7, 2007.  via nytimes.com)

Comments

How Desperate To Paint Iran Bush

regardez, le moment! Madame Vidon is a genius; quelle composition! et leurs mains!

Europeans have an deep appreciation for art as art and the connection of arts' political commentary. Certainly, Courbet's "Desperate Man" is arresting visually, but it commands the viewer to look deeply into the pain, but, then Corbet's life, near the end, had deep messages for these leaders. Added the recent riots outside of Paris must make them quite un-calm.

The Desparate Man is contained -- isolated, small in scale, solidly framed, surrounded by a large margin. Merkel's gaze lingers for a moment, dubious maybe, while the rest of the group turns to move on, perhaps to consider works of less youthful theatricality.

Cute picture. Give Sarkozy longer hair, and he could be the Desparate Man. Other reports tell us that Merkel is concerned about Sarkozy's approach to North Africa. The man has been a whirlwind of change, in general, and one wonders what Merkel thinks of all that showmanship and turbulence in France.

Maya Vidon has given us her opinion; We see Merkel's startled reaction to the Desparate Man.

Merkel seems to be a little worried about that painting, she is leaning away from it. Maybe it reminds her of something in her past.

Or maybe she is instinctively leaning away from Sarkozy's claw, without looking at it. That claw looks too much like Courbet's claws. She's under some pressure here.

And, is Sarkozy invading her space? Is this a problem with her, or for her?

Recall that President Boy Buffoon gave her a surprise rub-down on a stage in front of the world at some conference last year.

The Desperate Man looks like Johnny Dep playing Sweeney Todd.

I like the hands and the looks on the other people. There are five faces plus the painting that I see. One person in the backgound seems to be looking at the art. Merkel also seems to be looking at the art and has a protective hand before her. Sarkozy is looking and gesturing at Merkel. The man behind him is smiling and the woman next to him is looking at Merkel and may be saying something.

All the pictures I've seen of Merkel show her to be uncomfortable - the shots with Putin's dog, Bush giving her an uninvited shoulder rub. This is not that kind of uncomfortable as she seems to be centered within herself here, maybe reacting to the image in the painting.

Strange snapshot moment.

She's scared to death. Does she see the future?

i can't dissociate The Desperate Man from the BAGman's fantastic images (the "upside-down man", and the fireball of chaos!) over there on our right margin ~ of course, the BAG's illusion is fleeting; but what a moment, right here!

iow, i see The Desperate Man as the face of the quite insane Mr. Bush (not Sarkozy). Then, behind this proxy facade (ie., BUSH face = our facade: we quite insane Americans who, after all, empower him, as viewed by the Europeans) is the Up is Down-ism result: this hellish world of real fire and pain, which WE wrought.

Sarkozy isn't insane, he's a clever fox; He's the kind of guy you just love being seduced by {grin} only to toss your drink at him the next morning, right there in the Cafe Flore, while you're munching on your pain beurre, his charm... gone. You're more angry at yourself, really, than he (yet, the memory of that night of passion still tugs at you; how French : I love you so / I am so miserable, thus :)

So here are the smartly dressed Europeans at the d'Orsay... looking at US. i imagine the slick Sarkozy, talking about the realpolitik of dealing with That Crazy Man / Bizarre Americans... and Frau Merkel, knowing what she has to do, yet she sees HIM, and thinks "Oh! Must we deal with THAT = them? {sigh} je suppose, Nicolas; mais... comment désagréable! quelle horreur!"

It's just like a damn politician to come between art and the audience for art. He may be French, but he doesn't have any aplomb with which one associates with Frenchmen....but wait, of course, he's not French, he's a Hungarian. Poor Merkel. I'd be mad if I were in her shoes.

Interesting commentary. FYI the man with the glasses, smiling, is Serge Lemoine, the director of the Musée d'Orsay, organizer the exhibition at the Grand Palais. Enchanté that they are there, no doubt.

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